All states require adoptive parents to undergo an investigation to make sure that they are fit to raise a child. This investigation is called a home study. Typically, the study is conducted by a state agency or a licensed social worker who examines the adoptive parents' home life and prepares a report that the court will review before allowing the adoption to take place. The social worker makes a recommendation about whether the adoption should be approved, but a court always makes the final decision.
The social worker will commonly ask about a number of areas considered important to the adoptive parents' ability to raise a child:
- financial stability
- marital stability
- other children
- career obligations
- physical and mental health, and
- criminal history.
In recent years, the home study has become more than just a method of investigating prospective parents: It serves to educate and inform them as well. The social worker helps to prepare the adoptive parents by discussing issues such as how and when to talk with the child about being adopted, and how to deal with the reaction that friends and family might have to the adoption.
If the social worker ends up writing a negative report that claims the adoption isn't in the child's best interests, you may contest the conclusion. Each state has different appeal procedures. Some states provide for a separate procedure, while other states make the appeal part of the adoption hearing.
Copyright © 2006 Nolo